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What to Wear to a Graduation as a Guest

It’s graduation season, and with that comes ceremonies, parties, and all sorts of end-of-school-year events. Whether celebrating a new grad or attending a summer party, I’ve gathered some lovely options for you to wear this season. 

Of course, you can wear separates, like a nice pair of summer pants and a blouse. However, as readers requested, I focused on various dresses and a few jumpsuits. Below are 16 pretty options you can wear to any event this season.

These are all more than appropriate for a graduation ceremony or celebration. I broke it down into different styles of dresses and included a few jumpsuits as alternatives. They are all under $200 in regular, petite, and plus sizes.

What to Wear to a Graduation as a Guest: 16 Outfits

What to Wear to a Graduation as a Guest

Double Breasted Sheath Dress, $159 | POMANDER PLACE Kenzo Dress, $128 | Nautical Flower Linen Blend A-Line Dress, $149 | A-Line Wrap Dress, $169 | Wrap-Waist Maxi Dress, $150 | Twist Neck Sleeveless Jumpsuit, $139.00

I spent a few hours shopping at our favorite stores and brands, and organized our recommendations by style. There are petite sizes within many of the options and at least on plus size in each category.

Sheath Dresses

A sheath dress has a sleek silhouette, is fitted, and is tailored close to the body, typically falling just at or slightly above the knee. And while you might think of them as office wear, with interesting cuts and details, they can be an elegant and feminine option for a daytime occasion, like a graduation ceremony or party. 

Sheath Dresses
Double Breasted Sheath Dress, $159 | Cap Sleeve Cutout Sheath Dress, $139 | Tisbury Shift Dress, $158 | Scuba Crepe Short Sleeve Asymmetrical Neck Sheath Dress, $139

Let’s go from left to right.

Starting with a Double Breasted Sheath Dress from Ann Taylor. This is actually a really beautiful pale lavender in sizes 00 – 18 in regular and petites. The buttons read gold so wear gold or gold-tone jewelry and you can wear a metallic or neutral to you shoe.

The double breasted detail pulls in the line of the body, nipping your waist and creating a beautiful feminine shape.

Next is this Cap Sleeve Cutout Sheath Dress from Tahari ASL at Nordstrom. The color is called “flame” a vibrant deep orange in sizes 2 -16. The cut outs a the neckline really make the dress. Accessorize with statement earrings (like these from Julie Vos) and either neutral to you heels or a bold sandal like these from J.Crew.

Looking for a V-Neck style? I love this Tisbury Shift Dress from Lilly Pulitzer. Available in XXS -XL in this pretty navy with a ruffle detail at the neck. This is the shortest of our recommendations so please take note of the length before you order.

And rounding out the sheath dresses is this stunning Scuba Crepe Short Sleeve Sheath Dress from Calvin Klein at Dillards. Available in sizes 14 – 22, in “lipstick” with a super flattering asymmetrical neckline.

A-Line Dresses

A-line dresses are characterized by their classic and flattering silhouette that resembles the letter “A.” These dresses are fitted at the top and gradually flare out from the waist. The A-line cut is versatile and works well for various body types, offering a comfortable and stylish option for casual or semi-formal end of school year occasions.

What to Wear to a Graduation as a Guest
POMANDER PLACE Kenzo Dress, $128 | POMANDER PLACE Finley Flutter Sleeve Dress, $128 | Back Bow Sleeveless A-Line Dress, $99 | Nautical Flower Linen Blend A-Line Dress, $149

Let’s start with one of my favorite dresses. I have the POMANDER PLACE Kenzo Dress from Tuckernuck in hot pink Ikat, and I can tell you it’s soft and breezy while also polished and super chic. It’s available in 14 gorgeous colors and patterns in sizes XXS -XXXL. I took the medium.

Another favorite is the POMANDER PLACE Finley Flutter Sleeve Dress also from Tuckernuck. I have this in white and it’s a fantastic white dress for grown ups. It’s also available in five other colors in sizes in XS – XXXL. It looks great with a interesting flat sandal, like these updated Jack Rogers in platinum for under $100.

Next, a dress with all the details in the back. This Back Bow Sleeveless A-Line Dress from CeCe at Nordstrom is available in sizes 2 – 16 for $99.

And I LOVE this Nautical Flower Linen Blend A-Line Dress from plus size brand Estelle also at Nordstrom available in sizes 16 – 22 for $149.

If you are looking for a wonderful selection of plus size dresses look at Estelle, the styles are fresh, flattering and youthful and they are very reasonably priced.

Wrap Dresses

Next are some wrap dresses of various lengths, from knee to midi. Wraps, whether faux or traditional, often have a feminine and flowy silhouette, with skirts that can range from slightly flared to more voluminous. Depending on the venue or dress code, you can wear these to a graduation, an outside party, or even a wedding.

Wrap Dresses
A-Line Wrap Dress, $169 | Wrap-Waist Maxi Dress, $150 | Floral Wrap Front Midi Dress, $159 |3/4 Sleeve Faux Wrap Midi Dress, $89

Keep in mind if any of these fit in the top, but the length is too long, PLEASE consider having it altered. A hem is an affordable and easy to do adjustment.

Let’s start with this GORGEOUS A-Line Wrap Dress from Donna Karan at Macy’s. I almost skipped over it because I assumed it was going to be out of my under $200 price range, but it is only $169. Available in sizes 2 -16. It is the most formal of our recommendations.

For something more casual, you could try this Wrap-Waist Maxi Dress from Banana Republic Factory for $150 with an extra 20% off at checkout. Available in sizes 0 -18 in regular and petite. You have your choice of three colors, in green tie-dyed (above), solid teal and a fun red pattern.

They are showing this with it tied in the front and in the back. And I don’t know about you but a back bow feels very maternity so I might skip that look. 😉

Another longer length option is this Floral Wrap Front Midi Dress from Donna Karan at Nordstrom. I LOVE the draping detail at the waist, the flattering v-neck and high/low hem. If you need to have this shortened be sure to keep the higher hem in the front. Wear this with a heel, like this best selling, reader favorite for $69.99.

Finally, a plus size option from Dillard’s is this 3/4 Sleeve Faux Wrap Midi Dress for under $100. I like the black and white pattern, and the clean wrap style that doesn’t add any bulk. But it feels a bit long, so I would like to see this about an inch shorter just to make it feel lighter. Available in 1X – 3X.

Jumpsuits

Jumpsuits are great if you like the beauty of one-step dressing but with pants! So, I found four options, all different but appropriate. My only grip with jumpsuits, aside from how awkward they are in the restroom, is that they can be too short if you are tall. But! Before you dismiss them, the hem often has extra length that can be let down. 

Jumpsuits for graduation
Twist Neck Sleeveless Jumpsuit, $139 | Ruffle Neck Jumpsuit, $148 | Chambray Linen Jumpsuit, $110 | Pintuck Wide Leg Jersey Jumpsuit, $189

Let’s start bold with this magenta Twist Neck Sleeveless Jumpsuit from Tahari ASL in sizes 2 – 14 for $139, also available in black or navy on sale. The top will be most flattering on a smaller chest. If you are full busted it might make you look or feel broader than you are.

For a V-neck option, my favorite is this Ruffle Neck Jumpsuit from Eliza J at Nordstrom. The ruffles are pretty but not overwhelming and I like the defined waistband. Available in size 0 – 18, but getting limited.

I also like this pretty Chambray Linen Jumpsuit from Loft, for $110 with extra savings at checkout. Available in sizes 00 – 18. And remember this is LINEN so it will wrinkle.

Finally, our plus size recommendation is the Pintuck Wide Leg Jersey Jumpsuit from Adrianna Papell at Nordstrom for $189 in sizes 14 – 22. Look closely and you’ll see elegant and flattering pintuck details that adds subtle interest and texture – so pretty.

Any of these are multi-wear options for a graduation, summer cocktail party or any dress-up event you have this season where you want to look and feel extra fab.

Happy Shopping!

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MEET THE AUTHOR

Megan Kristel

Megan Kristel is an entrepreneur, working mom, and former personal stylist. Tired of the one-dimensional portrayal of women online, she founded The Well Dressed Life as a resource for other professional women.

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Alison

Wednesday 15th of May 2024

I got the Kenzo dress from Tuckernuck in blue/white Ikat and absolutely LOVE it! I just wore it last night for an end of year event dinner and middle school award ceremony.

Megan Kristel

Wednesday 15th of May 2024

Yay!!! So happy you love it. I'm wearing it to preschool graduation next week.

Kim

Wednesday 15th of May 2024

Hi Megan! Love your help with all things fashion. You've made my shopping so much easier and my wardrobe more organized and put together.

Just to let you know, I could have used this information a month ago. West Coast college graduations start at the end of April and early May. I just returned from my daughters UT, Austin graduation this past Sunday.

NATALIE K

Wednesday 15th of May 2024

If your attending a Christian School Graduation make sure your covered up top and to below your knee's. Some women don't know so I thought they would prefer to know!!